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What are Augmented Reality toys? How are they useful for children?

Every child's brain has a unique way of processing information and grasping a concept. An interactive AR toy can help them understand information at their comfort level and retain it for long.

Updated: November 2, 2018 3:00:11 pm
Augmented reality Augmented reality or AR creates a link between the real and digital world. (Source: PlayShifu)

Augmented Reality can bring alive concepts of geography, wildlife and much more for children.

By Vivek Goyal

Slowly, but surely, augmented reality is taking over the world, impacting many industries and business. The toy market too has embraced AR, making innovative toys that are interactive as well as educational. As a parent, if you don’t know what AR is all about, it is time you do.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) creates a link between the real and digital world. For example, AR can be utilised with a physical toy in combination with an app on a tablet or a smartphone that views or scans a real-world object (flashcard or image of a tiger). This scan will bring up a wealth of information over the object in real time (like a 3D figure of the tiger in its natural habitat). The power of AR lies in making a toy interactive and immersive, creating meaningful play experiences for children.

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augmented reality Dragon in AR

Why are AR-based tech toys popular?

Children today are smart. They need something extra to boost their brain development. With smartphones and tablets present in every Indian home today, it is natural for kids to become tech-savvy from an early age.

Every child’s brain has a unique way of processing information and grasping a concept. An interactive AR toy can help them understand information at their comfort level and retain it for long. This is better than reading about it in books or simply watching a video.

Moreover, AR toys have an edge over videos and digital apps in motor skill development. Making learning truly inclusive and flexible, AR creates vibrant digital content controlled by tactile play. Various forms of digital content like audios, music, videos, 3D figures and images are combined to create learning experiences for children. This keeps them engaged and opens two-way interactivity between the child and the technology, unlike traditional toys.

Solar System in AR

Why give them a flat world map or an old globe when you can stimulate their minds with an AR globe? AR can elevate geography beyond boundaries. There are toys that help explore the cultural and natural heritage of a region on the globe through its wildlife, monuments, inventions, cuisines and more. This sensitises young minds to the cultures and people present in different parts of the world. Not only are they learning about geography, but they are able to expand their knowledge about the world at the same time. There are numerous ways to make toys more engaging, experimental and immersive from a child’s perspective.

Why show kids a video of solar system when they can use an interactive 3D model to learn not just about the solar system, but about other galaxies, star burst and more? Simply use AR flashcards or AR books that will create a 4D space expedition for your kid. Experience the effects of gravity while walking on the surface of the earth compared to walking on the moon-all made possible with AR.

This process of learning ensures instant feedback, visualisation and a self- manipulated experience for every individual child.

Another interesting bit as seen in most AR toys is the presence of a progress chart or report. This report is a personalised evaluation of your child’s skills and learning progress that can be monitored.

Constant innovation and development taking place in the field have made this revolutionary technology accessible for all. Today, all you need is a smart device (smartphones or tablets, even the starting range) and a little awareness about its usage. And watch the world around you change with it.

(The writer is Co-founder and CEO of PlayShifu, an augmented reality learning platform for children.)

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